‘To destroy us…our enemies must first seduce us from the house of God’ -Yale President Timothy Dwight
American Minute with Bill Federer
A grandson of Princeton president Jonathan Edwards, he could read at age 4 and entered Yale at 13.He was a chaplain in the Continental Army until his father died.
Then, as the eldest of 13 children, he worked the family farm to pay off debts.
He served in Massachusetts’ first State Legislature.
His name was Timothy Dwight IV, and he died JANUARY 11, 1817.
In his 22 years at Yale, he created Departments of Chemistry, Geology, Law, and Medicine.
He also founded Andover Theological Seminary.
Timothy Dwight pioneered women’s education, and was critical of slavery and encroachment on Indian lands.
He befriended Henry Opukahaia, the first Hawaiian convert to Christianity, which led to missionaries sailing to the Islands.
During his administration, Yale grew from 110 to 313 students, with one of his students, Samuel Morse, inventing the telegraph.
Originally a Puritan college, Yale students had become enamored with “French infidelity” and the deistic “cult of reason.”
Dwight met with students and answered their questions on faith.
By the time of his death, JANUARY 11, 1817, a third of the graduates were professing Christians, and 30 entered the ministry.
On July 4, 1798, Timothy Dwight gave an address in New Haven titled “The Duty of Americans at the Present Crisis.”
In this address, he explained how Voltaire’s atheism inspired the French Revolution and it’s Reign of Terror, 1793-1794, where 40,000 people were beheaded and 300,000 were butchered in the Vendee:
“About the year 1728, Voltaire, so celebrated for his wit and brilliancy and not less distinguished for his hatred of Christianity and his abandonment of principle, formed a systematical design to destroy Christianity and to introduce in its stead a general diffusion of irreligion and atheism.
For this purpose he associated with himself Frederick the II, king of Prussia, and Mess. D’Alembert and Diderot, the principal compilers of the Encyclopedie, all men of talents, atheists and in the like manner abandoned.
The principle parts of this system were:
1. The compilation of the Encyclopedie: in which with great art and insidiousness the doctrines of … Christian theology were rendered absurd and ridiculous; and the mind of the reader was insensibly steeled against conviction and duty.
2. The overthrow of the religious orders in Catholic countries, a step essentially necessary to the destruction of the religion professed in those countries.
3. The establishment of a sect of philosophists to serve, it is presumed as a conclave, a rallying point, for all their followers.
4. The appropriation to themselves, and their disciples, of the places and honors of members of the French Academy, the most respectable literary society in France, and always considered as containing none but men of prime learning and talents.
In this way they designed to hold out themselves and their friends as the only persons of great literary and intellectual distinction in that country, and to dictate all literary opinions to the nation.
5. The fabrication of books of all kinds against Christianity, especially such as excite doubt and generate contempt and derision.
Of these they issued by themselves and their friends who early became numerous, an immense number; so printed as to be purchased for little or nothing, and so written as to catch the feelings, and steal upon the approbation, of every class of men.
These were printed and circulated at the lowest price through all classes of men in an uninterrupted succession, and through every part of the kingdom.”
“In societies of Illuminati…the being of God was denied and ridiculed….
The possession of property was pronounced robbery.
Chastity and natural affection were declared to be nothing more than groundless prejudices.
Adultery, assassination, poisoning, and other crimes of the like infernal nature, were taught as lawful…provided the end was good….
The good ends proposed by the Illuminati…are the overthrow of religion, government, and human society, civil and domestic.
These they pronounce to be so good that murder, butchery, and war, however extended and dreadful, are declared by them to be completely justifiable…
The means…were…the education of youth…every unprincipled civil officer…every abandoned clergyman…books replete with infidelity, irreligion, immorality, and obscenity…
Where religion prevails, Illumination cannot make disciples, a French directory cannot govern, a nation cannot be made slaves, nor villains, nor atheists, nor beasts.
To destroy us therefore, in this dreadful sense, our enemies must first destroy our Sabbath and seduce us from the house of God…”
Timothy Dwight concluded:
“Religion and liberty are the meat and the drink of the body politic.
Withdraw one of them and in languishes, consumes, and dies.
If indifference…becomes the prevailing character of a people…their motives to vigorous defense is lost, and the hopes of their enemies are proportionally increased…
Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears, and wolves, but not the freedom of New England.
If our religion were gone, our state of society would perish with it and nothing would be left which would be worth defending.”
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This is a repost of a post that I put up a year ago, but it is still relevant and I decided that it was worth reposting!
In the post I put up previously about the founding Father’s there was something that struck me! Roger Sherman stated:
There is one amendment proposed by the convention of South Carolina respecting religious tests, by inserting the word other, between the words no and religious in that article, which is an ingenious thought, and had that word been inserted, it would probably have prevented any objection on that head. But it may be considered as a clerical omission and be inserted without calling a convention; as it now stands the effect will be the same”
This was written in his second letter to the New Haven Gazette on the 25th of December 1788. It made me wonder how much history would have changed if that word, other, had been inserted in between the words no and religious?
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
From the Congressional Debates of 1789, we have this discussion on Religious Amendments:
August 15, 1789 First Federal Congress (Amendments-religious reference)
The House again went into a Committee of the Whole on the proposed amendments to the Constitution. Mr. Boudinot in the chair.
The fourth proposition being under consideration, as follows:
Article 1. Section 9. Between paragraphs two and three insert ‘no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed.
Mr. SYLVESTER had some doubts of the propriety of the mode of expression used in this paragraph. He apprehended that it was liable to a construction different from what had been made by the committee. He feared it might be thought to abolish religion altogether.
Mr. VINING suggested the propriety of transposing the two members of the sentence.
Mr. GERRY said it would read better if it was no religious doctrine shall be established by law.
Mr. SHERMAN thought the amendment altogether unnecessary, inasmuch as Congress had ‘no authority whatever delegated to them by the Constitution to make religious establishments; he would, therefore, move to have it struck out.’
Mr. CARROLL As the rights of conscience are, in their nature, a peculiar delicacy, and will little bear the gentlest touch of governmental hand; and as many sects have concurred in opinion that they are not well secured under the present constitution, he said he was much in favor of adopting the words. He thought it would tend more towards conciliating the minds of the people to the government than almost any other opinion he heard proposed. He would not contend with gentlemen about the phraseology, his object was to secure the substance in such a manner as to satisfy the wishes of the honest part of the community.
Mr. MADISON said he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience. Whether the words are necessary or not, he did not mean to say, but they had been required by some of the state conventions, who seemed to entertain an opinion, that under the clause of the Constitution, which gave power to Congress to make all laws necessary and proper to carry into execution the constitution, and the laws made under it, enabled them to make laws of such a nature as might infringe the rights of conscience, and establish a national religion; to prevent these effects he presumed the amendment was intended, and he thought it as well expressed as the nature of the language would admit.
Mr. HUNTINGTON said that he feared, with the gentleman first up on this subject, that the words might be taken in such latitude as to be extremely hurtful to the cause of religion. He understood the amendment to mean what had been expressed by the gentleman from Virginia; but others might find it convenient to put another construction on it. The ministers of their congregations to the eastward were maintained by contributions of those who belong to their society; the expense of building meeting houses was contributed in the same manner. These things were regulated by bylaws. If an action was brought before a federal court on any of these cases, the person who had neglected to perform his engagements could not be compelled to do it; for a support of ministers or buildings of places of worship might be construed into a religious establishment.
By the charter of Rhode Island, no religion could be established by law; he could give a history of the effects of such a regulation; indeed the people were now enjoying the blessed fruits of it. He hoped, therefore, the amendment would be made in such a way as to secure the rights of conscience, and the free exercise of religion, but not to patronize those who professed no religion at all.
Mr. MADISON thought, if the word ‘National’ was inserted before religion, it would satisfy the minds of honorable gentlemen. He believed that the people feared one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion, to which they would compel others to conform. He thought if the word ‘National’ was introduced, it would point the amendment directly to the object it was intended to prevent.
Mr. LIVERMORE was not satisfied with the amendment; but he did not wish them to dwell long on the subject. He thought it would be better if it were altered, and made to read in this manner, that Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or infringing the rights of conscience.
Mr. GERRY did not like the term National, proposed by the gentleman from Virginia, and he hoped it would not be adopted by the House. It brought to his mind some observations that had taken place in the Conventions at the time they were considering the present constitution. It had been insisted upon by those who were called anti-federalists, that this form of government consolidated the union; the honorable gentleman’s motion shows that he considers it in the same light. Those who were called anti-federalists at that time, complained that they were in favor of a federal government, and the others were in favor of a National one; the federalists were for ratifying the constitution as it stood, and the others did not until amendments were made. Their names then ought not to have been distinguished by federalists and anti-federalists, but rats and anti-rats.
Mr. MADISON withdrew his motion but observed that the words single ‘no National religion shall be established by law’, did not apply that the government was a national one; the question was then taken on MR. LIVERMORE’s motion, and passed in the affirmative 31 for it, and 20 against it.(5)
(End of Religious Reference)
I find it odd that people can read the amendment and clearly understand that the government is not allowed to infringe on the rights of the press, and yet as the same time ignore the statement that this same government is forbidden from infringing upon the rights of the people to practice their religion and to assemble peaceably as they will.
ARTICLE THE THIRD.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition to the government for a redress of grievances.
I also find it odd that those we elect to serve us and defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of American, assume that their role is instead to change that very document into something that suits their ideas of what should be. We have a responsibility to those who come after us to teach them the true meaning of what the oath of affirmation says.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
We have strayed very far from our beginnings, so far that children today seem to believe that our President serves as a Monarch, instead as part of a trinity of three equal branches of government with each having their own established jobs to do. We have let Presidents take power by way of Presidential Signings that has no real basis in law, and yet they use this power to force their will upon the people even when the people who elected them cry out for change. Our current discussion of limiting the rights of the people is another power grab that goes totally against the Constitution and knowing it, our leaders intend to do all they can to steal this right away from the people. This was not unforeseen by those very writers of the Constitution:
“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.”
Mr. GERRY: This declaration of rights, I take it, is intended to secure the people against the mal-administration of the Government; if we could suppose that, in all cases, the rights of the people would be attended to, the occasion for guards of this kind would be removed. Now, I am apprehensive, sir, that this clause would give an opportunity to the people in power to destroy the constitution itself. They can declare who are those religiously scrupulous and prevent them from bearing arms.
What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures, with respect to a militia as to make a standing army necessary. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. This was actually done by Great Britain at the commencement of the late revolution. They used every means in their power to prevent the establishment of an effective militia to the eastward. The Assembly of Massachusetts, seeing the rapid progress that administration were making to divest them of their inherent privileges, endeavored to counteract them by the organization of the militia; but they were always defeated by the influence of the Crown.
These gentlemen knew what it was like to be under an oppressive government. They understood the probability that there would come a time when our government no longer served the people but instead used force to impose their will upon them. They wanted to prevent this from happening.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.
I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” (Quoting Cesare Beccaria)
The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.
The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.
No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.
To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association—the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.
I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. (Back then!)
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.
Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
The god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva, in the brain of Jupiter.
In matters of style, swim with the current;
In matters of principle, stand like a rock.
What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?
The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all.
The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.
When wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.
Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.
The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law,” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.
It is strangely absurd to suppose that a million of human beings, collected together, are not under the same moral laws which bind each of them separately.
Liberty is the great parent of science and of virtue; and a nation will be great in both in proportion as it is free.
He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others.
To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
In a government bottomed on the will of all, the…liberty of every individual citizen becomes interesting to all.
I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Most bad government has grown out of too much government.
Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.
The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first. Read more at
American Minute by Bill Federer
On Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1492, Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground on the island of Haiti. Columbus left 40 men and named the settlement la Navidad, promising to return the next year.
On Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1777, Captain James Cook discovered Christmas Island, the largest atoll in the Pacific, where he observed eclipse of the sun.
On Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1946, President Harry S Truman lit the National Christmas Tree, saying:
“Our…hopes of future years turn to a little town in the hills of Judea where on a winter’s night two thousand years ago the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled.
Shepherds keeping the watch by night over their flock heard the glad tidings of great joy from the angels of the Lord singing, ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, peace, good will toward men.’
The message of Bethlehem best sums up our hopes tonight.
If we as a nation, and the other nations of the world, will accept it, the star of faith will guide us into the place of peace as it did the shepherds on that day of Christ’s birth long ago.”
The next year, on Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1947, President Truman lit the National Community Christmas Tree, stating:
“Down the ages from the first Christmas through all the years of nineteen centuries, mankind in its weary pilgrimage through a changing world has been…strengthened by the message of Christmas.
The angels sang for joy at the first Christmas in faraway Bethlehem.
Their song has echoed through the corridors of time and will continue to sustain the heart of man through eternity…
A humble man and woman had gone up from Galilee out of the City of Nazareth to Bethlehem…
St. Luke’s brief chronicle that Mary ‘brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn’…
At this point in the world’s history, the words of St. Paul have greater significance than ever before.
He said: ‘And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.'”
On Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1948, President Truman lit the National Community Christmas Tree and stated:
“The moving event of the first Christmas was the bringing forth of the first born in the stable in Bethlehem.
With one accord we receive with joy…the message of the first Christmas…
What could be more appropriate than for all of us to dedicate ourselves to the cause of peace on this Holy Night…”
“The religion which came to the world heralded by the song of the Angels has endured for nineteen centuries…It remains today the world’s best hope for peace if the world will accept its fundamental teaching that all men are brothers.
‘God that made the world and all things therein…hath made of one blood all nations of man for to dwell on all the face of the earth.’
In the spirit of that message from the Acts of the Apostles, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas.”
On Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1949, President Harry S Truman lit the National Christmas Tree, stating:
“The first Christmas had its beginning in the coming of a Little Child…Through that child love…the love of the Holy Family could be shared by the whole human family…
I have been reading again in our family Bible some of the passages which foretold this night. It was that grand old seer Isaiah who prophesied in the Old Testament the sublime event which found fulfillment almost 2,000 years ago.
Just as Isaiah foresaw the coming of Christ, so another battler for the Lord, St. Paul, summed up the law and the prophets in a glorification of love which he exalts even above both faith and hope.
We miss the spirit of Christmas if we consider the Incarnation…a far-off event unrelated to our present problems.
We miss the purpose of Christ’s birth if we do not accept it as a living link which joins us together in spirit as children of the everliving and true God.
In love alone – the love of God and the love of man – will be found the solution of all the ills which afflict the world today…
With increasing purpose, emerges the great message of Christianity…
In the spirit of the Christ Child – as little children with joy in our hearts and peace in our souls – let us, as a nation, dedicate ourselves anew to the love of our fellowmen…the message of the Child of Bethlehem, the real meaning of Christmas.”
On Christmas Eve, DECEMBER 24, 1952, President Harry S Truman lit the National Community Christmas Tree, stating:
“As we light this National Christmas tree tonight, here on the White House lawn – as all of us light our own Christmas trees in our own homes – we remember another night long ago.
Then a Child was born in a stable. A star hovered over, drawing wise men from afar. Shepherds, in a field, heard angels singing…That was the first Christmas and it was God’s great gift to us…
Year after year it brings peace and tranquility to troubled hearts in a troubled world.
And tonight the earth seems hushed, as we turn to the old, old story of how‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Let us remember always to try to act and live in the spirit of the Prince of Peace. He bore in His heart no hate and no malice-nothing but love for all mankind. We should try as nearly as we can to follow His example…
We believe that all men are truly the children of God. As we worship at this Christmastide, let us worship in this spirit…
Through Jesus Christ the world will yet be a better and a fairer place…
I wish for all of you a Christmas filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and many years of future happiness with the peace of God reigning upon this earth.”
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American Minute by Bill Federer
The thirteen States were afraid that the new Government they created might become too powerful, as King George’s government had been.They insisted handcuffs be placed on the power of the Federal Government.
These were the First Ten Amendments or Bill of Rights, ratified DECEMBER 15, 1791.
The Preamble of the Bill of Rights stated:
RESOLVED…that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States…”
The Amendments did not limit States or citizens, but the Federal Congress:
“CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Regarding this, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808:
“I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.
This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the U.S.”
“Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets.”
The Constitution of the United States of America-Analysis and Interpretation, prepared by the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress (Edward S. Corwin, editor, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1953, p. 758), stated:
“In his Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833, Justice Joseph Story asserted that the purpose of the First Amendment was not to discredit the then existing State establishments of religion,
John Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, published in Philadelphia by the J.B. Lippincott Company, 1889, stated in its definition of Religion:
“The Constitution of the United States provides that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’
This provision and that relating to religious tests are limitations upon the power of the Congress only…
The Christian religion is, of course, recognized by the government, yet…the preservation of religious liberty is left to the States.”
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story explained in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833:
“The whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the State governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice and the State Constitutions.”
Mercy Otis Warren wrote inObservations on the new Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions, 1788:
“The origin of all power is in the people, and they have an incontestable right to check the creatures of their own creation.”
President Dwight Eisenhower stated at a Governors’ Conference, June 24, 1957:
“The national government was itself the creature of the States…Yet today it is often made to appear thatthe creature, Frankenstein-like, is determined to destroy the creators.”
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Was America once a Christian nation?
Exclusive: Bill Federer looks at Obama’s 2006 statement in light of state constitutions
“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.” – President Barack Obama, June 28, 2006
Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out “whatever we once were”?
Originally, laws that governed personal behavior were under states’ jurisdiction, not federal.
People today are aware that some states allow minors to consume alcohol, and others do not; some states have smoking bans, and others do not; some states allow gambling, and others do not; some states attempt to limit the Second Amendment, and others do not; some states allow gay marriage, and others do not; and one state allows prostitution, while the rest do not.
At the time the Constitution was written, religion was under each individual state’s jurisdiction, and each state expanded religious tolerance at its own speed.
The U.S. Constitution went into effect June 21, 1788, when two-thirds of the states ratified it.
What was in those original 13 state Constitutions concerning religion at the time those states ratified the U.S. Constitution? [Caps added throughout for emphasis.]
DELAWARE – first to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:
“Every person … appointed to any office … shall … subscribe … ‘I … profess faith in GOD THE FATHER, and in JESUS CHRIST His only Son, and in the HOLY GHOST, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.'”
PENNSYLVANIA – second to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution, signed by Ben Franklin:
“Each member, before he takes his seat, shall … subscribe … ‘I do believe in one GOD, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.'”
NEW JERSEY – third to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:
“All persons, professing a belief in the faith of any PROTESTANT sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government … shall be capable of being elected.”
GEORGIA – fourth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1777 state constitution:
“Representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county … and they shall be of the PROTESTANT religion.”
CONNECTICUT – fifth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, retained its 1662 Colonial Constitution, which was established PROTESTANT CONGREGATIONAL, till 1818:
“By the Providence of GOD … having from their ancestors derived a free and excellent Constitution … whereby the legislature depends on the free and annual election. … The free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility and CHRISTIANITY call for.”
MASSACHUSETTS – sixth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1780 state constitution, written by John Adams:
“Any person … before he … execute the duties of his … office … [shall] subscribe … ‘I … declare, that I believe the CHRISTIAN religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth.’ … The legislature shall … authorize the support and maintenance of public PROTESTANT teachers of piety, religion and morality.”
MARYLAND – seventh to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:
“No other test … ought to be required, on admission to any office … than such oath of support and fidelity to this State … and a declaration of a belief in the CHRISTIAN religion.”
SOUTH CAROLINA – eighth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1778 state constitution:
“No person shall be eligible to a seat … unless he be of the PROTESTANT religion. … The CHRISTIAN PROTESTANT religion shall be deemed … the established religion of this State.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE – ninth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1784 state constitution: “No person shall be capable of being elected … who is not of the PROTESTANT religion.”
VIRGINIA – 10th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution, bill of rights, written by James Madison and George Mason:
“It is the mutual duty of all to practice CHRISTIAN forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
NEW YORK – 11th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1777 state constitution:
“The United American States … declare … ‘Laws of nature and of NATURE’S GOD … All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights … Appealing to the SUPREME JUDGE of the world … A firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE’ …”
NORTH CAROLINA – 12th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:
“No person, who shall deny the being of GOD or the truth of the PROTESTANT religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding … office.”
RHODE ISLAND – 13th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, retained its 1663 Colonial Constitution till 1843, which stated:
“By the blessing of God … a full liberty in religious concernements … rightly grounded upon GOSPEL principles, will give the best and greatest security … in the true CHRISTIAN faith and worship of God. … They may … defend themselves, in their just rights and liberties against all the enemies of the CHRISTIAN faith.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Lafayette Black wrote inEngel v. Vitale, 1962:
“As late as the time of the Revolutionary War, there were established Churches in at least eight of the 13 former colonies and established religions in at least four of the other five.”
John K. Wilson wrote in “Religion Under the State Constitutions 1776-1800″ (Journal of Church and State, Volume 32, Autumn 1990, Number 4, pp. 754):
“An establishment of religion, in terms of direct tax aid to Churches, was the situation in nine of the 13 colonies on the eve of the American revolution.”
The Journal of the U.S. House recorded that on March 27, 1854, the 33rd Congress voted unanimously to print Rep. James Meacham’s report, which stated:
“At the adoption of the Constitution, we believe every State – certainly 10 of the 13 – provided as regularly for the support of the Church as for the support of the Government. …
“Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people. …
“Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.”
Over the years, the Christians in these states extended tolerance to other denominations, to Jews, to monotheistic religions, to any religion and eventually to atheists.
Activists judges creatively used the 14th Amendment to remove authority over many issues from state jurisdiction.
Though our government has seemingly abandoned ties to the past, for the student of history, it is still fascinating to find out “whatever we once were.” —
American Minute By Bill Federer
After the victory of the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777:”The grateful feeling of their hearts… join the penitent confession of their manifold sins… that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance…
and… under the providence of Almighty God… secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”
That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory;
That He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel;
That He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth…
I do therefore… issue this proclamation… appointing… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God… Given under by hand… this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779… Thomas Jefferson.”
After traitor Benedict Arnold’s plot to betray West Point was thwarted, the Continental Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, October 18, 1780:
“In the late remarkable interposition of His watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution…
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations… to offer up their supplications to Almighty God…
the United States in Congress assembled… do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe… the last Thursday… of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
After the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, John Hancock, the former President of the Continental Congress now Governor of Massachusetts, proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, November 8, 1783:
“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and
that all the people may then assemble to celebrate… that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel…
That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish… and to fill the world with his glory.”
After the U.S. Congress passed the First Amendment, it requested President George Washington issue a National Day of Thanksgiving, which he did, October 3, 1789:
“Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me
‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness;’
That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere andhumble Thanks… for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government…
particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
After the Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812, President James Madison proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, March 4, 1815:
“The Senate and House of Representatives…signified their desire that a day may…be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a Day of Thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.
No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States.
He protected…them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days…
In the arduous struggle…they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of His benign interposition…
He…enabled them to assert their national rights and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies.
And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land…
I now recommend…a Day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of Thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.
Given…in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifteen… James Madison.”